After looking into the sources I included in my original research proposal, I have found a number of categories under which my information falls: the presence of transgender individuals in prison (this would include their disproportionate representation in prisons as well as numbers related to incarceration in single-sex prisons; are they in the prison that corresponds to their gender identity, and if not, what physical change would lead to their transfer), the availability of medical resources to transgender prisoners related to transition (i.e. hormones and gender affirmation surgery), and the history of court proceedings that make this treatment possible (including the cases of Michelle Kosilek and Michelle-Lael Norsworthy). I expect that this third category will tie most directly into my interest in prison mental health, as the DSM and diagnoses of Gender Identity Disorder and Gender Dysphoria have frequently been employed in cases as an argument for the necessity of medical intervention. Additionally, I think I could find a lot of interesting information on the comorbidity of depression and gender dysphoria in incarcerated people
So far, it looks like the most informative source I have already found is the article on health care policies addressing transgender inmates in the United States. This includes statistical information on the availability of hormone treatments for transgender inmates, along with information on how inmates were evaluated towards diagnoses. It also addresses the essentially universal refusal of support for gender affirmation surgeries. On another level, this source and others are interesting in terms of the language they use around these processes--there is a point (when the DSM-V was published) that "Gender Identity Disorder" became obsolete as a term, and "Gender Dysphoria" took its place. However, "sex change operation" is still used, despite the recent more frequent usage of "gender reassignment/confirmation/affirmation surgery" by the rest of the medical community. I wonder if this delay in the adoption of appropriate gender-related language by the prison medical community is mirrored in other parts of the prison healthcare system.
A more extensive look into court records related to this topic should answer some questions I have about the defenses' repeated appeals to decisions made in favor of transgender inmates. Why are they able to overturn the decision so consistently? What actual evidence is on their side, especially considering the employment of official diagnoses on the part of the prosecution?
This research has gotten me thinnking about the connections between my topic and Abby's, as so much of the public's opinion on transgender prisoners seems deeply and intrinsically related to the understanding of the incarcerated individual as nothing more than a "criminal." What makes us see people through this single lens? For so many, the argument against the prison healthcare system providing gender-related treatment is that "they are murderers," and thus do not deserve such extensive intervention. However, when living in a body that matches your gender identity is considered a human right, we must come both come to see the criminal as a human being and recognize that they deserve this treatment simply by nature of this fact. For those who already hold prejudice against transgender people, the inmate as a transgender person may only add to their image as a "perverted criminal" worthy of being locked up and kept at a distance from the rest of society. This, again, connects back to the relationship between transgender inmates and mental illness, as my initial reaction to the use of mental health diagnoses in trials was that it would make the inmate seem merely "crazy," and become further alienated from outside society.
I also wonder how much overlap there will be between my topics and Rhett's and Joie's--and whether we should be moving towards a more direct collaboration, in order to work together on a final project (still trying hard to avoid thinking of the "container" before I have my content--it's so against my nature!).